Top COVID-19 questions

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Top questions – employees

A public health order says I have to get vaccinated to attend my workplace. What happens if I don’t want to get vaccinated?

Employers and workers need to comply with any public health orders that apply to them. Public health orders are set by state and territory governments. Find out whether any COVID-19 vaccination public health orders apply to you at COVID-19 vaccinations: legislation and public health orders.

Your employer can direct you not to come to work unless you’re vaccinated where a state or territory public health order requires you to be vaccinated to attend your workplace. If you don’t fall within any exemption under the order, then this may result in disciplinary action. It can also mean that your employer doesn’t have to pay you (unless your employer agrees to you taking paid annual leave or long service leave). Learn more:

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Who compensates me if I’ve been directed to get vaccinated and I have a reaction to the vaccine?

The Australian Government is developing a claims scheme to compensate eligible people who suffer a moderate to significant impact following an adverse reaction to an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more at Department of Health – COVID-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme external-icon.png.

For information about workers compensation, go to Workers compensation and contact your local workers compensation regulator. Workers compensation is governed by individual Australian states and territories and isn’t an issue we can advise on. Australian Government employees and organisations that self-insure under the Comcare scheme can also contact Comcare external-icon.png for information.

For information about work health and safety laws, go to Safe Work Australia – COVID-19 information for workplaces external-icon.png. You can also contact your state or territory work health and safety regulator to check local laws for your state or territory.

Learn more:

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Can my employer direct me to work with unvaccinated employees?

It’s unlikely that you can refuse to attend your workplace because a co-worker isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. If you refuse to follow your employer’s lawful and reasonable direction to attend the workplace, your employer may take disciplinary action.

Your employer is required to consult with you and any health and safety representatives on work health and safety matters that affect you. This includes assessing risks from COVID-19 at work and how to minimise them, such as by requiring vaccination.

If you’re concerned about work health and safety issues, contact your state or territory work health and safety regulator. You can also get industry work health and safety guidance at Safe Work Australia – COVID-19 information for workplaces external-icon.png.

Learn more:

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Top questions – employers

I’m an employer and a public health order requiring vaccination applies to my business. What are my obligations to comply?

Employers and employees need to comply with any public health orders that apply to them. These public health orders are enforced by the relevant state or territory government that issued them. For more information about complying with public health orders, contact your state or territory public health department external-icon.png.

You can also:

Find out more:

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There is no public health order that applies to my business. Can vaccination be mandated?

If there isn’t a public health order in place requiring vaccination, there are some situations where you may require your employees, or some of your employees, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Find out more at Can an employer require an employee to be vaccinated?

You should get your own legal advice if you’re considering making COVID-19 vaccinations a requirement in your workplace.

Learn more at Lawful and reasonable directions to get vaccinated.

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Can employees be asked to provide evidence of their vaccination status?

If you have given your employee a lawful and reasonable direction to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and your employee complies, you can ask the employee to provide evidence of vaccination. Find out more at Can an employer require an employee to provide evidence that they have been vaccinated?

You may have privacy obligations relating to an employee’s evidence of vaccination. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has guidance on employer privacy obligations at Office of the Australian Information Commissioner – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations: Understanding your privacy obligations to your staff external-icon.png.

Employers may also be required to ask employees to show or give evidence of their vaccination status to comply with a public health order.

Find further guidance at:

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